Welcome back to the POP QUIZ! This is a regular, yet totally unexpected, feature where we ask students, parents, staff, our friends, and partners to answer a few questions about what they are learning, reading, and thinking about.
January is National Mentoring Month and today we feature Amy Kuchta, Chief Executive Officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters. Whether it’s school-based mentoring or working together on initiatives like Bigs in Business, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo have been working together for over a decade to serve students in the Kalamazoo Public Schools. Amy has been involved in both sides of the partnership, having left Big Brothers in 2009 to serve as director of elementary sites for three years and then returned to Big Brothers Big Sisters in 2012 to serve as CEO. “CIS is critical to us. We have a powerful partnership and are able to provide services directly to the kids that need them. CIS is the link that makes sure we are able to reach the kids who are in the greatest needs of our services.”
Did you know that Big Brothers Big Sisters serves five counties and there are over 200 children waiting to be matched with a mentor? Amy says this number stays fairly steady as once a child is matched, another is then added to the waiting list. Think you might want to be a Big Sister, Big Brother, Big Couple, or Big Family? Click here for more information.
Alright, Amy: pencil out, eyes on your own paper. Good luck.
What is something interesting you’ve recently learned?
This may sound geeky but I like looking at our program data, reflecting on 2015, and thinking about what we can do to improve in 2016.
What one thing did you learn in pouring over the data?
We expanded some of our programs. This made it more flexible for mentors and because of this we were able to serve more middle school and high school students. Traditionally, when people come in they want to be paired with an elementary student. People assume middle and high school students don’t want mentors—which isn’t the case at all. They want to be connected with caring adults, too.
What are you currently reading?
I’m re-reading a book by Barbara Ehrenreich called Nickel and Dimed. I love that book! I read it every couple years. I find it fascinating. Her book provides a striking picture of the challenges many individuals with minimum wage jobs face, that struggle to get by day to day.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I see myself here for a long time. I love what I do and the impact we’re having on the kids we serve.
What did you want to be when you were little?
[Amy laughs.] A Supreme Court Justice or President of the United States.
You’d be good at either, but were glad you’re here in Kalamazoo. Tell us something more about you.
Hmmm. I do read a lot of books about list of post-apocalyptic fiction. I find them intriguing—all the survival scenarios. I guess I like books that focus on ways people creatively figure out ways to survive in challenging circumstances.
Behind every successful student is a caring adult. Who has been your caring adult?
I had a teacher in sixth grade named Mr. Pierce. My father had died about a year before and Mr. Pierce really took me under his wing and looked out for me. He made sure I had everything I needed, including emotional support, to get through a tough time.
As you know, it’s Mentoring month. We hear that word a lot, mentoring. How do you define mentoring?
I’d say that mentoring is a consistent and caring relationship between two people. At Big Brothers Big Sisters, we call them ‘Bigs’ and ‘Littles’ but we know there is an impact on both.
Thank you, Amy!